View synonyms for rein


[ reyn ]


  1. Often a leather strap, fastened to each end of the bit of a bridle, by which the rider or driver controls a horse or other animal by pulling so as to exert pressure on the bit.
  2. any of certain other straps or thongs forming part of a harness, as a checkrein.
  3. any means of curbing, controlling, or directing; check; restraint.
  4. reins, the controlling or directing power:

    the reins of government.

verb (used with object)

  1. to check or guide (a horse or other animal) by exerting pressure on a bridle bit by means of the reins.
  2. to curb; restrain; control.

    Synonyms: limit, bridle, check

verb (used without object)

  1. to obey the reins:

    a horse that reins well.

  2. to rein a horse or other animal.


/ reɪn /


  1. often plural one of a pair of long straps, usually connected together and made of leather, used to control a horse, running from the side of the bit or the headstall to the hand of the rider, driver, or trainer
  2. a similar device used to control a very young child
  3. any form or means of control

    to take up the reins of government

  4. the direction in which a rider turns (in phrases such as on a left ( or right ) rein , change the rein )
  5. something that restrains, controls, or guides
  6. give free rein or give a free rein
    to allow considerable freedom; remove restraints
  7. keep a tight rein on
    to control carefully; limit

    we have to keep a tight rein on expenditure

  8. on a long rein
    with the reins held loosely so that the horse is relatively unconstrained
  9. shorten the reins
    to take up the reins so that the distance between hand and bit is lessened, in order that the horse may be more collected


  1. tr to check, restrain, hold back, or halt with or as if with reins
  2. to control or guide (a horse) with a rein or reins

    they reined left

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See reign

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Other Words From

  • reinless adjective
  • un·reined adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of rein1

1300–50; (noun) Middle English rene, reine, raine < Old French re ( s ) ne < Vulgar Latin *retina, noun derivative of Latin retinēre to hold back, retain; (v.) Middle English rainen, reinen, derivative of the noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of rein1

C13: from Old French resne , from Latin retinēre to hold back, from re- + tenēre to hold; see restrain

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. draw rein, to curtail one's speed or progress; halt:

    The rider saw the snake and drew rein sharply.

  2. give rein to, to give complete freedom to; indulge freely: Also give free rein to, give full rein to.

    to give rein to one's imagination.

More idioms and phrases containing rein

see draw in the reins ; free hand (rein) tight rein on .

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Example Sentences

SEATTLE — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down as chief executive of the e-commerce giant, turning over the reins to the company’s longtime cloud-computing boss Andy Jassy.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped back from their roles as CEO and president of Alphabet in 2019, handing the reins to Sundar Pichai, a trusted deputy of 15 years.

Mayor Todd Gloria took the reins at City Hall last Thursday having already vowed to find funding to keep the shelter open into the new year.

Mayor Todd Gloria took the reins at City Hall on Thursday, becoming the first person of color and member of the LGBT community elected to the city’s top post.

When he took the reins in 2018, the 1,470-store chain made becoming an e-commerce player a priority.

From Fortune

Kim Jong Un, who assumed power on the death of his father, had given uncle Jang nearly free rein to handle relations with Beijing.

In retirement, Frank is consciously trying to pare down and rein in.

Congress itself ironically recognized as much in its effort to rein in presidential use of force after Vietnam.

There are times where we do takes that are so crazy that we have to rein it in.

He organized a bipartisan effort to rein in the National Security Agency that came within a few votes of passing the House.

He rode easily, with a loose rein, and he waved his disengaged hand the instant he caught sight of the white faces.

To rein up was impossible, to go down would have been almost certain death to horse and man.

The rein was fastened to a piece of split rattan drawn through the animal's nose.

Without drawing rein, they pushed on to Busseerutgunge, crossed the river Sai and neared the village of Bunnee.

A little way beyond the poplar-grove Piegan drew rein, and held up one hand.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.